Thursday, April 2, 2009

hoc adfigere cunctabam...

I have been delaying posting this...for fear of it being adopted as a focal point in the ever-eloquent conservative argument against government stimulus.

The Fed's recent announcement (link with explanation by Krugman) of its new, nontraditional expansionary policy of "quantitative easing"--the functional equivalent of printing money--is an attempt to expand the monetary base with interest rates already hovering at the zero bound. Certainly conservatives have been less opposed to this measure than fiscal efforts (more often than not, on spurious grounds--the reemergence of the misguided 19th century British "Treasury View" has been the recent scourge of Brad DeLong among others); nevertheless, I though it prudent not to add ammunition, particularly as ludicrous arguments seem to dominate the discourse--even beyond Fox News.

The fact, however, illustrates an important lesson about etymology: historical context is important, at times to the extent that it is the only way of understanding a word's roots. The English words "money" and "mint" are derived from the Latin verb monere "to warn, to admonish"...

Hold the head-shaking.

"Money," in this case Roman coin, was originally "minted" at the temple of Iuno Moneta--Juno the Admonisher. The term is a transference by metonymy.

Let us hope, for the sake of an already pedantic national discourse, that I have not gravely erred.

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